Print 17 comment(s) - last by boeush.. on Apr 19 at 2:55 PM

System helps heat building, provides shade, and grows algal biofuel

When Austria's Splitterwerk Architects called on engineers and architects to build buildings of the future for the International Building Exhibition, even they might not have imagined what the London-based Arup Group would come up with.

Arup's engineers designed a facade composed of glass louvers made by German consultancy SSC Strategic Science Consult that provides a number of green perks.  First, the system's fluid is used as a heat exchange system to help heat the building on cold, but sunny days.

At the same time the system stakes a claim to acting as the world's first "living building", with the louver circuit containing live microalgae.  Special systems feed the algae carbon dioxide and nutrients.

Algae facade

The microalgae are a special genetically engineered strain that can be processed into biogas. The algae provide shade inside the building.  After a growth cycle they are harvested in-house as a thick pulp and then fermented into biogas in an interior fermenter.

The system has been installed in the BIQ building as a proof-of-concept.

Algae facade

Much of the previous "green building" research has focused on putting solar panels as windows.  At the same time many alternative fuel experts have worked to formulate designs for algae biofuel farms.  The Arup project is perhaps the first real-world project to inject algae into a facade-type growing construct.

Jan Wurm, a research leader at Arup, brags to de zeen, "To use bio-chemical processes for adaptive shading is a really innovative and sustainable solution, so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario.  As well as generating renewable energy and providing shade to keep the inside of the building cooler on sunny days, it also creates a visually interesting look that architects and building owners will like."

Sources: IBA, de zeen

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By GulWestfale on 4/17/2013 6:10:45 PM , Rating: 5
i produce biogas all day, and my huge gut provides shade to a family of four.

RE: tsk
By spamreader1 on 4/17/2013 6:26:20 PM , Rating: 2

RE: tsk
By HostileEffect on 4/17/2013 7:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
Its comments like this that shave stress off my day.


RE: tsk
By MadMan007 on 4/17/2013 7:49:13 PM , Rating: 2
Do you produce enough biogas to let you putter far enough that it covers your commute?

RE: tsk
By GulWestfale on 4/17/2013 8:59:09 PM , Rating: 5
i save it up for when i ride my scooter to work. it's like rocket-assisted take-off for jetfighters, but with my scooter. it's a two-stroke, so nobody notices
that smell
of taco bell
when i drive past
people get gassed
but i'm going fast
powered by ass
and that is important or i'd have to sit in a cloud of my own stink.

RE: tsk
By MadMan007 on 4/17/2013 9:06:40 PM , Rating: 2
But....everyone likes their own brand don't they.

RE: tsk
By Cannyone on 4/17/2013 10:43:15 PM , Rating: 2
No... Not Really!

RE: tsk
By StevoLincolnite on 4/18/2013 7:27:04 AM , Rating: 2
But....everyone likes their own brand don't they.

I've always been a firm believer in "Sharing is caring".
Just a shame my better half doesn't see it that way when I let it rip in bed.

Dutch oven anyone?

RE: tsk
By Integral9 on 4/18/2013 9:02:55 AM , Rating: 2
Besides bringing new meaning to the term: Crop Dusting. I have to ask: Ever crap your pants trying to pass someone?

By Paj on 4/18/2013 7:01:33 AM , Rating: 2
Clever stuff.

Only potential problem would be that all the natural light in the building could have a nasty green tinge? Although I guess you could install a filter for that.

RE: Nice
By marvdmartian on 4/18/2013 7:46:49 AM , Rating: 2
It will never work in the USA, though. Just ask the ethanol producers & corn growers lobbyists.....they'll tell you!!

RE: Nice
By lelias2k on 4/18/2013 10:49:15 AM , Rating: 2
I think you are forgetting the most powerful lobby, aren't you? ;)

RE: Nice
By JonnyDough on 4/19/2013 5:43:32 AM , Rating: 2
I think you're talking about the oil industry, although utility companies that operate on coal and nuclear energy have quite a bit of pull in Washington as well.

By Ammohunt on 4/18/2013 11:40:35 AM , Rating: 2
Biogas is all fine and nice but what about producing food?

RE: Ok
By Etsp on 4/18/2013 2:04:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure that after the oil is extracted, the leftovers can be used as livestock feed or fertilizer...

RE: Ok
By seamonkey79 on 4/18/2013 3:13:47 PM , Rating: 2
Plus if we can get away from biofuel coming from corn ethanol, it's a step in the right direction even if *this* doesn't produce food. I'm as interested in decreasing the dependance on domestic corn for fuel as I am in petroleum dependance.

Nice, but what about in real life?
By boeush on 4/19/2013 2:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
I see two major and somewhat related engineering issues with this approach, at a minimum.

First issue: what happens if/when a window breaks or need to be replaced (and how much does that cost)?

Second issue: what happens when, on a cold winter day, the window (and the fluid inside it) drops below freezing temperature. One single cold snap might shatter all those windows in one day...

And then, there's the issue of cost-effectiveness. All that extra plumbing, filtration, nutrient injection, and fermentation equipment costs money to install and operate. Do the heating and biofuel benefits really provide more bang for the buck that basic water-heating or PV panels?

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